A Massachusetts high school student says he was suspended from playing football after he kneeled during the national anthem in a protest similar to NFL 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Athletes across the country are becoming inspired by Kaepernick's widely covered protest of police brutality and the marginalization of African-Americans in the United States.
His influence has spread to the high school level, where junior defensive back for Doherty High School, Mike Oppong, decided to kneel during the anthem for every game of the season, according to MassLive.
"Ima pull a Colin Kaepernick and sit during the national anthem on Friday," he announced over Twitter on Sept. 6.
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Oppong explained to reporters that he is protesting the mistreatment and oppression of African-Americans in the U.S.
"We are disrespected and mistreated everywhere we go on a daily basis because of our skin color and I’m sick of it," he said, according to Raw Story.
The high schooler kept to his word and kneeled during the anthem before his Sept. 9 game. He claims he was later pulled aside by his coach and told that he would be suspended for one game because of his actions.
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Black Lives Matter activists, enraged by the administration's decision, flooded the school principal with calls, demanding that Oppong's suspension be reversed, Raw Story reports.
Deputy legal director of the Massachusetts American Civil Liberties Union, Sarah Wunsch, told MassLive that Oppong's suspension was illegal under state law, saying that students have the right to peacefully protest or express themselves.
"In our view, they violated his rights," she said. "I would suggest that other members of the team would join them. It’s really important that he’s not alone in this."
The school district eventually released a statement that directly conflicted with Oppong's version of events, saying he was never suspended for protesting.
"There has not been any student or football player that has been suspended for anything that happened on Friday night," the statement reads, reports USA Today. "The Doherty student did not violate any school rule when he peacefully and silently protested during the National Anthem. He exercised his Constitutional Rights without disturbing the school assembly and he is not being disciplined by his actions."
Oppong himself has yet to directly comment on the school district's claim that he was never suspended. Rather, he tweeted that his suspension was simply "terminated."
"Thanks to all your love and support my suspension of 1 game has been terminated!" he said.